I’m far from an expert cook, but I’ve banged around kitchens long enough — enjoying myself in the process, I might add — that I’ve learned how to whip up a tasty dish or two. I am also, as I have mentioned before, a cheap bastard.
It is the convergence of these two points that leads to this blog entry.
I use olive oil like a mad fiend; sometimes the plain stuff works fine, but other times when I’m making a more savory dish, I want an olive oil that has a bit of kick to it. You could shell out an inordinate amount of money for an herb-infused olive oil at the snooty grocery store, but frankly I’d rather make it myself.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Hanamasa is your go-to spot for buying things in bulk, and for a lot less than you’d find elsewhere. The beer bottle you see here has been filled with extra-virgin olive oil from an industrial-sized, Hanamasa- purchased number, and filled with dried peperoncino, crushed garlic, lemongrass, bay leaves and rosemary. (The huge bag of peperoncino was also purchased at Hanamasa — I tear the things up by hand and toss them into pretty much everything.)
It doesn’t take more than a couple weeks for the flavors to soak into the olive oil, and it is friggin’ incredible. I use it to coat the frypan when cooking up meats or tofu, and also drizzle it over salad, adding vinegar, crushed black pepper, a dash of cayenne and several shakes of Pieffe brand grated Italian cheese blend to make a rocking good salad dressing. Yes, I like spicy food so much that even my salads are spicy.
If you like to cook, I’d recommend giving your own flavored olive oils a shot. It takes next to no time to do, and the results speak for themselves.